Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Progressive Male

Good afternoon, dear Mr. Nelson! I do hope you are well.

Mr. Nelson asked a tongue-in-cheek question about the Progressive Male. This question was answered in typical tongue-in-cheek manner by various non-progressives around him; Pretty Lady will now endeavor to address the matter seriously. Pot-shots from the balcony are, however, welcome.

progressive adj 1 a: of, relating to, or characterized by progress b: making use of or interested in new ideas, findings or opportunities c: of, relating to, or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of self-expression.

The scourge of Pretty Lady's existence has been, truthfully, Boring Men. Pretty Lady admits that the fact that most men bore her is not their fault. Cursed with an abnormally high IQ, an addictive reading habit, and a voracious yearning after wisdom, Pretty Lady has found, to her sadness and dismay, that when the average fellow bares the deeps of his soul to her, her response, more often than not, is to reflect, "Yes, I thought of that. When I was about twelve."

(She doesn't say this, of course. What she says is generally along the lines of, "Ah! M-hmmm. Interesting." It doesn't do to give the dear boys a complex.)

And truthfully, the Boringness Quotient has, in the long run, little to do with native intellect. It has much more to do with laziness. The average human male, in the absence of severe threats to his personal survival, reaches an age between twenty-five and thirty and simply stops thinking. By the time he is twenty-five, he has generally decided 1) what his political beliefs are; 2) what his ethical/religious beliefs are; 3) what his career goals are; 4) what kind of women he likes to sleep with; and 5) where he likes to go on vacation. All intellectual and social pursuits thereafter are dedicated toward reinforcing and defending these points of view.

By the time he is fifty, such a man has intellectually ossified to such an extent that his habits of thinking are irreversibly stamped upon his physiognomy. He has a pronounced, entrenched gut. He has two severe lines extending from nose to jowl, and a wattle beneath. His upper lip is perfectly straight, with perhaps a slight downturn at the corners. His shoulders are stooped and knotted, his lower back is in constant pain, and his limbs are thick and inflexible.

It is at this point that the gentleman calls upon Pretty Lady, complaining of chronic pain, and she employs her afternoon in beating him up, trying to reverse in one hour the effects of two decades of circular thinking. Pretty Lady is grossly underpaid.

So much for the non-progressive male.

The Progressive Male, on the other hand, has an attitude toward life resembling that of the Dalai Lama. Pretty Lady has never met the Dalai Lama in person, but from the books and interviews she's read by and about him, she must say that the man is a sweetheart. Whenever presented with an idea which is unfamiliar to him, or even one which is familiar, the Dalai Lama is likely to reply, "Hmmm. Let me consider that." In order to further explore this idea, the Dalai Lama will ask thoughtful, probing questions of its propounder. He will not make a blanket judgment; he takes it, and you, seriously.

If the propounder of the idea is, in fact, a jackass, said jackass is left to come to this conclusion on his own. The Dalai Lama loves him anyway.

In Pretty Lady's view, the Progressive Male is not a male who subscribes to any particular social or political beliefs. He is not necessarily a liberal, a feminist, a socialist, a Buddhist, or a queer. In fact, a man who identifies himself by any particular '-ism' for a prolonged length of time is, ipso facto, not progressive. The Progressive Male makes Progress. He explores, he questions, he challenges, he learns a new trade. In the course of these explorations, he sometimes comes to some startling conclusions; he may even discover that our forefathers were right about some things. But he never takes anything for granted.

You see, darlings, we live in a world which is chock full to the brim with Different People. Pretty Lady has empirically discovered, in her profession, that not only are people Different, but they are all Valid. Each one hangs together in his or her own personal, complex, inimitable way. They may be ossified, they may be foolish, they may be entrenched and isolated and despairing, but each of them has a point of view, and if one takes the trouble to explore this point of view, one can generally learn something.

The non-progressive male (or female; let us cease this arbitrary sexism) makes the blanket assumption that those who do not share his or her point of view are stupid and not worth considering. Such non-progressives, in their extreme form, make the assumption that those Other People out there are actually evil, and must be destroyed. Such assumptions manifest themselve in increasingly belligerent behavior, as well as pronounced guts and facial wattles. Thus, even if a non-progressive is correct in some of his assumptions, he becomes increasingly difficult to be around.

Progressives, of course, can be even more difficult to be around. They can sometimes make you downright uncomfortable, particularly when they insist on selling their stock options and their apartment and taking off around the world, or starting a subsistence farm, or quitting their jobs and putting every cent of home equity into a real-estate startup. They have been known to depart abruptly for Buddhist monasteries. Engaging one's life with a Progressive is not for the faint of heart or will. It frequently requires patience, resourcefulness, and the willingness to part ways when the Progressive goes too far.

But Pretty Lady has always preferred this to the sort of fellow who sits behind his Wall Street Journal and makes a variation of the same snarky comment, every single day. Life, as they say, is too short.


Anonymous said...

I am well M’lady and hope life is treating you with some respect. Business is good? Thanks for your views on this subject.

Pretty Lady said...

Actually, business is terrible, which is one of the many reasons I am looking for a subletter. But among the few clients who are still in the city, there are some who are experiencing miracles after their sessions, so I must be content.

Pretty Lady said...

And it is good to hear from you, and that you are well.

The Aardvark said...

Absent my friend Julian, I would surely come to you for therapy, were I in your demesne.

However, between you and the pizza, I may need to overcome my phobia of megalopoli.

Any word on your friend with ALS?

Pretty Lady said...

No word since the last post, dear Aardvark; thank you for asking. I have been sending long-distance healings, but since the up-close ones had little effect I am not optimistic.

The Aardvark said...

I'll be praying as well.

Anonymous said...

PL... Seems to me the males who are calling themselves "progressive" are merely liberal thinking type men. I think they are trying to put this new label on because liberal is sort of becoming a derogartory insult. What you describe as a non-progressive male (why don't we say women and men? or how about ladies and gentlemen? male and female, kinda blahh..) is the kind of man who goes to work everyday and goes home to family - responsible and dependable to the point it is doing a slow croppling effect on his body. The Progressive as you describbed seems to be self centered and unreliable. Jetting across the continent in search of themselves just seems so full of themselves that they find they are full of it.... whatever it is. And then they feel so spiritual that they even might feel saved.

Ever think that the non-progressive male whose body is in knotts and getting more crippled could because he has had to work his entire life to provide, for his family and for the government so that the taxes can get paid?

Pretty Lady said...

You make some excellent points, Starbuck. It is a continuum; responsibility balanced by creativity and pro-activity. Too much of one or the other makes Johnny a miserable boy.

Anonymous said...

"Ever think that the non-progressive male whose body is in knotts and getting more crippled could because he has had to work"

Yep. I was thinking the same thing. No way to make me exciting. We sign onto our lives and it goes from there.

Anonymous said...

Sr, you didn't make any sense. Not to me anyways. What on earth are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Shades of gray, I have heard that expression a lot in my life. People (all people) see things in shades of gray, no matter their beliefs or background. i.e. I am not a bad person, even though I committed rape and murder.

However, God chose to deal with our salvation in black and white terms. You are either with him or against him. He left no middle ground.

Anonymous said...

Tell him yourself. Don't need me as an interpreter. He understands you just fine.

Anonymous said...

You'd love my husband, Pretty Lady.